He's Official! - An interview with Brett Mentzer – NCAA Basketball Referee/DWC Account Manager

Written By: Charlie Barber

Posted March 5, 2024

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March Madness is upon us, and everyone is gearing up to fill out their brackets. For a few weeks each year, everyone becomes a college basketball fan, following each game to see if their bracket can prevail. For Distributor Wire & Cable (DWC) Account Manager, Brett Mentzer, he’ll be following the tournament with a little more insider knowledge than most of us. You see, when Brett isn’t helping electrical distributors with specialty wire & cable sourcing, he works as a NCAA Basketball Referee. Recently, we sat down with Brett and asked him to share some of his experiences as a ref.

The Monthly Wire: How did you get your start as a NCAA Basketball referee?

Brett: I started officiating high school basketball in 2004 to just make some extra money and just fell in love with it. Around 2009 I had some officiating buddies that were going to an NCAA clinic and on a whim decided to join them and the rest is history.

TMW: Have you ever worked games with any players or coaches that are well known household names?

Brett: I have officiated a few games with some well-known coaches. I worked some Texas A&M games when Mark Turgeon was there. I worked some Creighton games with Greg McDermot and Kansas State when Frank Martin was there. I had the chance to work a Kansas game a few years back but I had to turn it down due to the birth of my daughter.

TMW: What are the most challenging aspects of officiating NCAA basketball games, and how do you handle pressure-packed situations during a game?

Brett: I think the most challenging aspect of officiating is not getting caught up in the game. These players are such high caliber athletes its easy to get caught up in the moment if you are not focused on the job at hand. Other than that, it’s like anything else, if you want to be successful at your craft you have to continually look for ways to improve. With a family, it can be challenging to find the time to study film or critique the last game I worked.

TMW: Can you share any insights into the behind-the-scenes aspects of being an NCAA basketball referee, such as travel schedules, game assignments, and interactions with players/coaches off the court?

Brett: For the most part, living in Nebraska, I have to travel everywhere. Nothing is close so traveling is the least of my worries. Each conference has a pool of officials who are assigned to that conference for regular season games. Its all based on experience, qualifications, performance evaluations, and availability. All of those factors play into assignments. It’s a job so you have to treat it that way when you communicate with coaches/players. If you build rapport and treat everyone with respect it makes the game flow a lot better.

TMW: Are there any similarities between refereeing and your Account Manager role at DWC?

Brett: There are a lot of similarities between refereeing and being an Account Manager. For both positions you must be able to handle stressful situations and keep your head. You must be a good communicator, set expectations, and build rapport.

TMW: Who do you have winning the Men’s tournament this year?

Brett: Living in Nebraska, I am a HUGE Kansas basketball fan, so I will have to go with the Jayhawks. Rock Chalk!